Archive for September, 2013

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #350: Featuring Elisha Cooper

h1 Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Early sketch

Final art: “…into the night. The moon rises. Wherever the train goes, the moon follows. When the train stops, the moon stops. When the train starts, the moon starts. Sometimes it hides behind a ridge. Then—hello friend—reappears. The train rests in small towns. Passengers off, passengers on. Stars blink in the cold air, lights blink on the horizon, and the Overnight Train pushes into the deep hours of the night…”
(Click to enlarge spread. No, really. You must.)

Anyone else seen Elisha Cooper’s newest picture book, Train (Orchard Books, September 2013)? It’s really something, and it’s been met with a whole heapin’ handful of starred reviews. (Too many to keep up. Just trust me on this.) This is one for the senses, Cooper’s depiction of the sights and sounds and smells of the experience of riding a modern-day train. Readers start out with a red-striped Commuter Train, end with a High-Speed Train, and experience a bright blue Passenger Train, an orange Freight Train, and a dark green Overnight Train in between. We stop at small stations, sit in the cab of an engine, pass valleys of fields, witness the outskirts of a midwestern city, step inside Grand Central Station, head across the Great Plains, enjoy a dining car, watch the moon follow the train, and much more. We see the sights, smell the biscuits (and “grease and rust and burnt toast”), and hear the sounds of the train (“it sounds like the da dum da dum of a beating heart”).

There’s no shortage of children’s books about trains, but this one is exceptional for its lyricism and Cooper’s signature artistic style: Impressionistic, gestural, graceful. He segues from one train to the next without a hiccough. The book’s horizontal format is perfectly suited to the subject matter, and his spot-on pacing and very fluid sense of movement (as well as a text that flows beautifully) make these page turns compelling. As they should be in a book about a train’s forward journey.

And what breathtaking landscapes we’re treated to in this one, as only Cooper can show us. The night-time spread, pictured above, is particularly striking. Best of all, he captures the wonder of trains — and travel in general. It’s a child-like wonder that never for a second talks down to children—Cooper would never do such a thing—making this a book for all ages. But I’ll stop there, ’cause he’s visiting this morning to talk a little bit about that. The wonder, that is.

I thank him for stopping by and sharing artwork and sketches — or, in his words, “mainly paintings as they were happening.” (I have a kind of addiction to seeing Elisha-Cooper sketches.) Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Up To at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring John Burningham

h1 Friday, September 27th, 2013

“Hare took the other end of the rope and went down to the river to talk to Hippopotamus. ‘What on earth do you want now, you silly long-eared, big-whiskered nerd?’ said Hippopotamus. ‘Although you think I am a tiny wimpy thing, if you have a tug-of-war with me,’ said Hare, ‘I know I would win.’ ‘You! Win against me? You must be joking!’ said Hippopotamus. ‘There is no way a little speck like you
could possibly win against mighty me.'”

(Click to enlarge spread slightly)

“Some time later, Elephant and Hippopotamus pulled the rope close enough that they finally came face-to-face. ‘What are you doing, Hippopotamus?’ said Elephant.
‘I thought I was having a tug-of-war with Hare.’ ‘So did I,’ said Hippopotamus.
Then they realized they had been tricked and they were furious.
‘Let’s get the little runt!’ they cried, and thundered off to find Hare.”

(Click to enlarge spread slightly)

This morning at Kirkus, I have a round-up of sorts, a look at new story collections or collections of newly-illustrated famous tales of one sort or another. (Sound vague? Well, you can read it here, if you’re so inclined.)

Next week here at 7-Imp, I’ll feature some art from each of the books mentioned in that column.

* * *

Last week (here), I wrote about John Burningham’s newest picture book, which is only new in some ways. That column—which really ended up as an ode to Burningham, as I’m a huge fan—is here, and above are two spreads from the book.

Until Sunday …

* * * * * * *

TUG-OF-WAR. Text copyright © 2012 by John Burningham. Illustrations copyright © 1968 by John Burningham. Spread reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

“To Face the Lions”

h1 Thursday, September 26th, 2013

From “Sleep Charm”: “This bed is the perfect bed. / Sink into its healing /
cloud-softness, / cheek against cool pillow-white. /
Forget anything you ever wanted, / hoped, or feared. …”

Last week, I chatted here at Kirkus with author and poet Joyce Sidman about her newest poetry collection, What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms & Blessings (Houghton Mifflin), to be released in early October. The book is illustrated by two-time Caldecott Honor recipient Pamela Zagarenski.

Today here at 7-Imp, I’ve got two spreads from the book (including the poems), as well as some details from some of Pamela’s paintings. I thank Pamela for sharing them.

Also below is one question for Joyce I didn’t have room for in last week’s column, as well as a trailer for the book, which features even more of Pamela’s artwork.

*[This post’s title comes from “Song of Bravery,” one of my favorite poems in the collection: “…But here I go— / bones clicking quietly together, / blood flowing dutifully / from heart to hands and back again— / here I go, stepping out / through the door / of my own shadow: / into the glare of the arena / to face the lions.”]

Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry �

Seven Questions Over Breakfast with John Parra

h1 Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

It’s a pleasure to welcome illustrator John Parra to 7-Imp this morning. Parra’s bright folk-art-esque illustrations, rendered via acrylics on wood and often reflecting Mexican heritage and culture, have appeared in a handful of picture books since 2005, all listed below. This year readers saw his artwork in Roseanne Greenfield Thong’s Round is a Tortilla, released by Chronicle Books in March.

“At home,” John tells me, “my breakfast-of-choice is Honey Bunches of Oats cereal with Bustelo coffee in the morning. On the weekends my wife, Maria, makes great eggs and pancakes. When I’m visiting family in San Diego, a good bowl of pesole soup in the morning will do wonders, but the best breakfast I ever had was three or four years ago at a diner in Pomona, California. A good friend, Mark, took my wife and me to it. We all ordered the recommended egg and shrimp omelet that was filled with delicious cheese, avocado and salsa. It sounds simple but was truly sublime to taste.”

Do I get to pick? I would love to try the pesole soup, so we’ll have the cyber-soup for this cyber-breakfast. (But also the Bustelo coffee! Must have the coffee.)

Let’s get right to it, ’cause John shares lots of art this morning.

I thank him for visiting.

Read the rest of this entry �

Caldecott. Sendak. Mo.

h1 Monday, September 23rd, 2013

See the three books pictured here? I wrote about them for a feature over at BookPage.

Here’s the link, if you’re so inclined to read it.

Until tomorrow …

7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #349: Featuring Edward Gorey

h1 Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

“We stood there in front of him. He seemed neither pleased nor disappointed to see us. … ‘I think,’ said my mother, placing a quieting and comforting hand on Ogdon,
‘he is waiting for something to eat.’ My mother is a very practical woman.”

That was just really fun to say: “Featuring Edward Gorey.”

As if he’s here, visiting 7-Imp.

(Oh, pictured left is Ogdon, who is four years old. He is shouting, “He is waiting for me-e-e!” More on that in a minute.)

I’m doing something different today. I have a hard and fast rule here at 7-Imp (a land without very many rules at all, honestly) about always featuring new children’s books. Or, you know, new adaptations or re-tellings or re-releases with new illustrations. You get the idea.

Last Fall, the New York Review Children’s Collection re-released Rhoda Levine’s He Was There From the Day We Moved In, illustrated by Gorey, which was originally published in 1968. When they re-released it, I got a bit of art from the publisher so that I could blog about it.

Yes, last Fall.

Sometimes I’m just really slow.

I never got around to blogging about it in 2012 and so sort of gave up on the idea. But today I’m feeling contrary (breakin’ the law, BREAKIN’ THE LAW!), and I’m going to blog about it, even though this lovely re-release was nearly one year ago.

And I mean, hey. It’s Edward Gorey, dear friends. It’s always fun to post about Edward Gorey.

Read the rest of this entry �

What I’m Up To at Kirkus This Week

h1 Friday, September 20th, 2013

I really have no idea how the voices in my books come to me. I’m not sure any writer does. Walter Dean Myers once said that when he has to explain how he came up with the idea of a certain book, he mostly makes stuff up, because the whole thing is a mystery to him. It’s a mystery to me, too! And everyone does it differently.”

That’s Joyce Sidman, pictured here. We chatted yesterday morning at Kirkus about several things including taking risks, how a poet turns off the noisy world for a while (including loud social media-type places), and collaborating once again with illustrator Pamela Zagarenski. We also talked about her newest poetry collection, What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms & Blessings (Houghton Mifflin, October 2013). That chat is here.

This morning, I ended up writing an ode of a sort to author/illustrator John Burningham, who is one of my all-time favorite illustrators. Candlewick has released a new(ish) book of his, and if that “ish” confuses you, well … you can read more here.

Until Sunday …

* * * * * * *

Photo used with permission of Joyce Sidman.

Lots and Lots of Art, Featuring Don Brown,
K. G. Campbell, Bob Graham, Hoda Hadadi, Liniers, Noëlle Smit, Bob Staake, & Even More (with a
Few Words from Kelly Cunnane and Ame Dyckman)

h1 Thursday, September 19th, 2013

I promise I have a few words to say, but first I want to show you eight different illustrations (before I show you even more art after I say my few words).

Here goes:

“Look! A RAINBOW!!!”
— Illustration from Liniers’
The Big Wet Balloon

“Women whisper on the corner, veiled head to toe
in malafa, color of lime and mango.
More than all the gold on a bride’s crown,
you want a malafa so you can be a lady too.”
— From Kelly Cunnane’s
Deep in the Sahara, illustrated by Hoda Hadadi
(Click to enlarge)

Illustration from Ame Dyckman’s Tea Party Rules, illustrated by K. G. Campbell

Spread (without the text) from Don Brown’s The Great American Dust Bowl:
“Storms could blow for days and be immediately followed by another and another, making for unrelenting blows for weeks on end. Raging, grit-filled winds shattered windows and scoured the paint off houses and cars. Trains derailed.
Telephone poles were knocked to the ground.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

From McSweeney’s The Goods: Volume 1
(Click to enlarge)

“He swayed, he frowned, he tilted forward …”
— From Bob Graham’s
The Silver Button
(Click to enlarge spread slightly)

“The monkey felt himself being squeezed very tightly. It was his first hug.
‘I’m going to call you Rico!’ said the boy.
Rico hugged the boy back and put his head on the boy’s shoulder.”
Illustration from Fiona Rempt’s
Rico the Brave Sock Monkey,
illustrated by Noëlle Smit

Spread (without the text) from Sue Fliess’ Robots, Robots Everywhere!,
illustrated by Bob Staake:
“Robots spin and race and run. / Robots, robots—I want one!”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Why am I showing you all these today?

Last week at Kirkus, I wrote about Seven Lovely Fall 2013 Picture Book Surprises. That’s ’cause my eyes were big, and I didn’t want to write about just one book. That link is here, and today I have art (more below) from each book. Authors Kelly Cunnane and Ame Dyckman also share a few words about their picture books.

[IMPORTANT NOTE: The colors are a bit off in the illustrations from Rico the Brave Sock Monkey. They are translating a bit too brightly here on the computer screen. If I can somehow fix that later, I will do so.]

Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry �

Picture Book Month 2013

h1 Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

I’ve mentioned Picture Book Month previously here at 7-Imp, but here’s a quick note this morning to say that I’ll be a part of it this year, its third annual celebration.

Picture Book Month is an international literacy initiative that celebrates the print picture book during the month of November, encouraging everyone to read and share picture books. Founder, Dianne de Las Casas, and Co-Founders, Katie Davis, Elizabeth O. Dulemba, Tara Lazar, and Wendy Martin, collaborated on this initiative, pulling together their world-wide connections to launch this celebration.

The Picture Book Month website features what they call a “picture book champion” for every day of November 2013. These folks—authors, illustrators, and many more—will weigh in on why they think picture books are important, and I’ll be one of those folks in early November. The site also includes a themed calendar, picture book links and resources, links to picture book publishers, links to picture book authors/illustrators, links to picture book blogs/review sites, picture book activities, and much more.

I’m all for celebrating picture books.

I’ll be back Thursday with lots of picture book art. Until then …

* * * * * * *

Picture Book Month logo creator: Joyce Wan. Image used with permission.

“It’s history, it’s engineering,
it’s the landscape, it’s the West!”

h1 Monday, September 16th, 2013

The more I learned about how the machines worked, the more interesting they became to me—in the same way that a puzzle can become more interesting as you begin to solve it. And the more I thought about and read about and then saw the landscape through which the transcontinental line traveled, the more amazed I became. Some of that landscape is beautiful and frightening in its openness, emptiness, grandeur. I remember cruising along state Route 233 in Nevada, absolutely alone, and imagining what it would have been like to be out there, building that line in 1869.”

That’s Brian Floca, pictured here, on his beautiful new picture book, Locomotive (Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books, September 2013). Today over at Kirkus, we talk about his research. That link is here.

* * * * * * *

Photo of Brian Floca used with permission of the publisher.